Just got back from a week in Kansas City, where we had a good old time hanging out with the Old Man and his lovely wife. As it happened — well, as I planned it — both David Byrne and Ween were in town at the same time as us, and so we had a couple of full-on rock’n’roll experiences with the folks in tow.
Byrne was touring in support of his new album American Utopia, but he was kind enough to favor us with a half-dozen Talking Heads songs, including “Once in a Lifetime,” “I Zimbra,” “Naive Melody,” and “Burning Down the House.” Some of his new material was quite good too, but there is simply no matching the power of those classics. A full-on Heads reunion seems to be out of the question, so I guess that’s as close as we’ll get.
The Ween show was a bit disappointing; both the acoustics and the selection of material left something to be desired. Though we did get great renditions of “Ocean Man,” “Big Jilm,” and “Piss Up the Rope.” Thanks to the latter, I can now say that I’ve heard 2,000 Midwesterners enthusiastically singing “On your knees you big booty bitch, start sucking.” Which is nice.
We ended up leaving during the first encore, and so not until I looked at the set list later did I learn that they had closed with one of my very favorites, “Buenos Tardes Amigo.” So it goes. On the whole, I can’t complain.
At the beginning of this year’s playoffs, the conventional wisdom was that whoever won the West would hammer whoever came out of the East. And sometimes the conventional wisdom turns out to be right. Last night the Warriors completed a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers with a definitive, whistle-to-whistle domination on the Cavs’ home court.
And there was much rejoicing. Though maybe not quite as much as last year; one is forced to admit that after three championships in four years, a little bit of the novelty has worn off. When the Champagne (actually Anderson Valley Brut) was gone and the coverage of postgame revelry gave way to local news, the feeling here on Evergreen Avenue was of pleasant exhaustion more than active jubilation.
Do I feel bad about my boys claiming another title when the fans in Houston, in Oklahoma City, in two dozen other cities would give their left arms to see their teams hoist the trophy? Not really. Does any fan ever say, “Enough, please stop winning now.”? If they win three or four more we might be there; but probably not.
On the 4th of July two years ago, when Kevin Durant announced his intention to sign with the Warriors, we knew there would be nights like this. Nights when the Splash Brothers were struggling (3-for-15 combined on threes) and the Warriors were having a hard time putting points on the board.
Two years ago, the Dubs would have lost this game. But last night KD calmly went about his business, scoring 43 points to go with 13 rebounds and 7 assists. Again and again throughout the night he jabbed daggers in, and then with 49 seconds left, he finally hit the heart:
This game unfolded strangely for me and mine, as we had tickets for the Ween show at the Arvest Bank Theatre in Kansas City that was starting just a few minutes after tipoff. The plan was to DVR the game and maintain a news blackout until we could watch it in the A.M., and things were going swimmingly until about an hour into the show. This was when Dean Ween — somewhat randomly, if you ask me, since Ween is from New Jersey — asked the crowd, “Does anybody know the Cavs score?”
I managed to clamp my hands to my ears fast enough to avoid spoilers, but not so lucky was my wife, who around the same time received an unexpected text message from her mother revealing the result. From her subsequent demeanor I gathered there wasn’t much to worry about — but it was still fun to watch Steph Curry slowly tunnel into the Cavaliers’ chest cavity and ever-so-gently pull their hearts out.1Also fun: Hearing the crowd chant “MVP” for J.R. Smith everytime he touched the ball in the first half, by way of thanks for his gave-saving gaffe in Game 1.
Of special note is the shot that occurs about 1:15 into this video, where Steph is moving away from the basket as the shot clock expires, then suddenly turns and tosses up an apparent prayer that swishes through. What’s truly amazing about it is that if you look close, you can see that it is no accident; he knows exactly what is about to transpire. He gathers himself, pivots on one leg, raises up, and launches a rainbow that doesn’t even ruffle the net.
I long ago ran out of superlatives for this kind of thing, but I never get tired of watching it. I am, on the other hand, just plain tired; I don’t handle this rock’n’roll lifestyle as well as I used to. That’s all for today. Game 3 is Wednesday.
You can never have too many pictures of LeBron James suffering.
Thanks to careful planning, I was so well fortified with vodka martinis and white wine last night that I did not suffer unduly when the Warriors almost blew this game. In a just universe, the Cavs probably would have won; they fought and clawed and hung tight for 48 minutes, and were only undone in the end by the technically-correct-but-wow reversal of a foul call and a monumentally boneheaded play by the ever-surprising J.R. Smith.
Fortunately, we live in the real world, where 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists from The Minotaur Currently Known as LeBron James are not necessarily enough to earn a victory. A world where a charge call on Kevin Durant with 36 seconds left in the game is reviewed to determine whether LeBron was in the restricted area and ends up being changed to a block, resulting in Durant free throws that tie the game. A world where George Hill has a chance to secure the win by making two free throws, but misses the second, and the rebound is corralled by Smith, who then inexplicably dribbles away from the basket as the clock runs out, sending the game into overtime.2Also a world where events more or less force one to pile up numerous dependent clauses.
J.R. Smith has always been, to put it politely, mercurial. Or to put it not politely, a nutjob. His shenanigans over the years have been many; in this case it appears that he literally didn’t know the score, thinking his team was ahead and that running out the clock would ensure victory. On the court afterwards, he appeared to say “I thought we were up”; in a postgame interview he denied this. As The Ringer recounts it,
When the doors to the Cavs locker room finally opened, more reporters than I could count crammed inside the cramped space and surrounded Smith. But while [Tyronn] Lue, [Steve] Kerr, and everyone who watched the game believed that Smith thought the Cavs were ahead, J.R. said he knew the game was tied. He told us that he dribbled out because Kevin Durant was in his way and he wanted “to get space to bring it out and maybe get a shot off.” Then — and this was the truly ridiculous part on a night full of ridiculous moments — he kinda threw LeBron under the bus.